tv NBC Nightly News NBC July 29, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm PST
on our broadcast tonight, wounds of war. a grim assessment of the lasting damage for this nation's men and women in uniform after they come back home. new anxiety in the gulf tonight. once that oil well is killed, will bp stick around for the cleanup? also, more tonight on that alarming new leak. teaching moment. the president speaks out about our schools and about race and that government employee who was fired because of what she said. and that girl. tonight, we go on the trail of the heroine of the blockbuster hit of the summer. the heroine of the blockbuster hit of the summer. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening. because of two separate stories tonight on two separate fronts, this was a dark day for many of those who proudly wear army green. we learned today about the extent of mismanagement on some hallowed american ground -- arlington national cemetery. this involves the remains of those who gave everything they had to this country. and something else, the number two ranking general in this country, a man fresh from the battlefield himself, came out with a tough report today on the toll of our dual wars. multiple combat tours, multiple wounds and deep troubles for the proud ranks of the u.s. army. we begin tonight with our pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski. jim, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. based on this new report, the army promises to fix its mental health problems and put its soldiers first, but it's got a long way to go. as a specialist in the army
jennifer crane was sent off to afghanistan. >> two weeks after we landed there, we were attacked for the first time. >> reporter: the war took a heavy personal toll. once back home, she got hooked on cocaine and ended up on the streets. >> unfortunately, didn't cope with anything fairly well. >> reporter: jennifer got the necessary counseling and is back on her feet, but a devastating new report from the army today reveals that after nine years of war, thousands of soldiers never survive their own personal battles. >> we have an army that's been fully engaged for almost nine years now. i don't think that we fully understand the toll that that's taken on the forces. >> reporter: the numbers are staggering. last year, more than 1,700 soldiers attempted suicide. 160 succeeded -- the highest number in 30 years. and drug abuse is a huge problem. of 64,000 felonies and noncombat deaths, 72% were drug-related. more than 1,300 soldiers have
failed two or more drug tests, but are still on active duty today. but how could this happen? the report suggests it's a failure of leadership. to meet the demands of two wars, the army lowered its standards for new recruits. and army officials admit that combat commanders were under so much pressure to get soldiers into battle, they often overlooked disciplinary problems, even criminal activity. >> because of everything we're doing we have not paid the attention we need to on high risk behavior. >> reporter: armed with this new report, the army pledges to restore some of the basic leadership that's been lost while fighting two wars and, more importantly, put the well-being of their soldiers first. but the army came under fire for another issue today -- arlington national cemetery. >> this is not only totally unacceptable. it is a black eye. >> reporter: angry senators grilled the cemetery's former leadership demanding to know how more than 200 graves could have been mismarked or have no headstones at all.
senator claire mccaskill said the actual number could be as high as 6,600. >> we have lost the bodies of our fallen heroes? we have cremated remains and we don't know who they belong to? this is not complicated. it's called keeping track of who you bury where. >> reporter: former superintendent john metzler accepted responsibility. his deputy thurman higginbotham refused to even answer most questions, invoking the 5th amendment. the army launched its own criminal investigation, even as it promises to restore the dignity owed to the nation's fallen. in still one more story out of the army tonight, pentagon officials tell nbc news that 22-year-old private first class bradley manning, suspected of leaking a classified video to wikileaks, is on his way tonight from kuwait to washington, d.c. where he's expected to face court martial for mishandling of classified material. manning is also considered a person of interest in this latest wikileaks story.
pentagon officials say that essentially manning has been placed under suicide watch out of fear that he may harm himself. brian? >> jim miklaszewski on duty for us at the pentagon to start things off for us tonight. jim, thanks. there is sad news to report about the second u.s. sailor missing in afghanistan since last friday. today the pentagon confirmed the body of 25-year-old petty officer third class jarod newlove from washington state has been recovered. this incident took the sailors lives still under investigation. we turn now to the oil disaster in the gulf and with the cap still holding and the relief wells on track, concern has now moved 100% to the cleanup and many are worried bp will bail out of the cleanup effort once the well is permanently plugged. remember one thing, there is still 90 days worth of oil in that water. it took six weeks to get to shore in the first place and now there is another incident causing concern. so we have two reports tonight beginning with anne thompson in venice, louisiana.
anne, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. the only thing people here fear more than oil coming is bp and the coast guard taking their equipment and going. that was the topic of a meeting in new orleans today described as frank and passionate. it is the backbone of the shoreline cleanup and an economic lifeline for out-of-work fishermen. today, national incident commander thad allen told louisiana officials the vessels of opportunity program will be downsized once the well is killed. how contentious was that issue today with the parish presidents? >> i don't think it's contentious so much as it's very complex. i hate to use downsize. i think rightsize is more -- we need to adjust the vessels of opportunity, all of the resources to what the requirement is. >> reporter: there are thousands of boats in the program. now that bp's well is capped, the mission will move from response to recovery. parish presidents fear retreat. >> we're going to hold their feet to the fire to make sure they are there until all of the
oil is gone out of the gulf of mexico before we all all the assets out of our parish. >> reporter: in plaquemines parish today there was oil to clean up in the marshes. we found patches of crude wednesday evening seven miles south of empire rock. this is why the oil is harder to find and harder to recover, because it is coming in ever smaller pieces and now mixing in with the debris of the gulf. an invasion louisiana does not want to fight by itself. can you assure the people of louisiana that bp and the coast guard won't cut and run? >> we're not running anywhere. there is a coast guard station in venice here. i talked with bob dudley. we're committed to be here and make sure this thing ends correctly. >> reporter: a promise louisiana officials say they are not buying into just yet. anne thompson, nbc news, venice, louisiana. >> reporter: i'm janet shamlian in baritaria bay. officials said it would be fixed within a day but an abandoned well hit by a tug boat has been
spewing a toxic mix of oil and natural gas into the gulf for almost three days, and the coast guard said it could be 12 before it's finally capped. >> it's spewing 30 barrels of oil a day into the area that was already impacted by the bp oil well spill. it's not good news for us. >> reporter: what began as a small leak now blankets six square miles as spools of containment boom rage a david and goliath battle to protect estuaries nearby. >> i have seen barges hit well heads but i have never seen one spurt like that. >> reporter: captain james peters says they are sometimes marked with a sign and small light or sometimes not at all, making them a dangerous obstacle. the gulf waters are a minefield of abandoned oil and gas wells that, for the most part, go unchecked to see if they are leaking. >> it's amazing. there wouldn't be enough people in louisiana to check them every day. there are more wellheads in louisiana than there are people. >> reporter: the associated press reports as many as 27,000
wells are considered abandoned and says some gulf state officials worry many of them are badly sealed. >> it happens a lot. it will keep happening as the equipment gets older. the only solution is better regulation. make the polluters pay and phase out of this risky business of oil drilling. >> reporter: for its part, the industry says if properly capped they should last forever. unless they don't. janet shamlian, nbc news, baritaria bay. >> hard to believe. then there's the other oil spill. the epa now says a million gallons have spewed from a pipeline in michigan though a canadian company that owns it says the amount is closer to 800,000 gallons. 20 miles of the kalamazoo river have been contaminated. local health officials say 50 homes have been evacuated because of what you're looking at. the pipe has been shut down. investigators are trying to figure out what caused the break and the effort is now to protect
the waters of lake michigan. veteran new york democratic congressman charles rangel was charged today with 13 counts of violating house ethics rules, setting up a possible trial that could happen as soon as september. most serious charges here involve asking for corporate donations for a public policy school to be named for him at a new york college and failure to disclose income and pay taxes. rangel's lawyers failed to reach a settlement deal with the committee because they couldn't agree on how much wrongdoing the 20-term congressman from harlem would have to admit to. also today, president obama made a high profile defense of his approach to improving public education. it's called race to the top. it's a big and revolutionary approach that's been controversial, even among many of his own allies. as our white house correspondent savannah guthrie reports, his speech about schools was also about race. [ cheers and applause ] >> reporter: though he was among
friends before one of the nation's largest civil rights organizations today, the president also encountered foes. >> when you try to shake things up, some people aren't happy. >> reporter: the national urban league is among seven civil rights groups this week to blast the president's signature education initiative race to the top which rewards federal funding to schools based on a competition among states that embrace reform such as tying teacher evaluations to student performance, adopting common student achievement standards and encouraging charter schools. but civil rights groups worry race to the top leaves minority students at the bottom. 19 states were announced this week as finalists in the latest round of competition for federal funds, but critics say in the two states to actually win grants so far, only 3% of the nation's black students are represented. >> let me tell you what's not working for black kids, hispanic kids and native american kids
across the country is the status quo because lifting up quality for all our children -- black, white, hispanic -- that is the central premise of race to the top. >> reporter: before the predominantly african-american audience today, the issue of race was perhaps inevitable. >> she deserves better than what happened last week. [ applause ] >> reporter: the president made his most extensive comments yet about shirley sherrod, the usda official his administration fired in haste after selectively edited clips surfaced on a conservative website portraying her as a racist. the president said today a national conversation on race is necessary. >> a discussion that needs to take place not on cable tv, not just through a bunch of academic symposia, fancy commissions or panels, not through political posturing but around kitchen tables. >> reporter: sherrod herself said today the nation, including
its first african-american president, still has much to learn. >> we have to make sure they understand the history so that they can do a better job in the positions that they have. >> reporter: the issue of race even followed the president to the set of abc's daytime talk show "the view" where he was asked why he doesn't refer to himself as biracial. >> the interesting thing about the african-american experience in this country is that we are sort of a mongrel people. i mean, we are all kind of mixed up. >> reporter: as for shirley sherrod, she said today she's still thinking about that job offer from the administration, but she said she definitely plans to sue andrew breitbart, the conservative blogger who first posted excerpts of her speech. brian? >> savannah, thanks for all of that. savannah guthrie, our white house correspondent. when our broadcast continues in just a moment, protesters angry about arizona's tough new immigration law being blocked by the judge. and later, the books that have become an unlikely worldwide sensation.
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taste it, love it, or it's free! ♪ activia you're looking at part of the fallout in arizona after a judge blocked the most controversial parts of the state's new immigration law that went into effect today. as expected, arizona has appealed the decision. our own george lewis is with us from the border of nogales, arizona. george, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. the question is how much border security is enough. there are 20,000 border patrol agents now. that's twice as many as there were nine years ago. they are a major presence on the streets of nogales and soon they will be joined by the national guard. it's all in a day's work for agent rudy garcia.
helping his fellow border patrol agents round up people trying to cross illegally from nogales mexico into nogales, arizona. the heavy presence of border patrol agents here has kept the streets safe in spite of a raging drug war on the mexican side of the border. >> there have been 130 on the mexican side. we have not had a homicide here in three years. >> reporter: out in the arizona desert there is a different statistic. in july, authorities in tucson recovered the bodies of 57 illegal immigrants who died in the heat. so far this year the death toll is 152. in the last ten years, human rights groups say 1,900 people have died trying to cross the border. most of their bodies winding up in unmarked pauper's graves like these. rancher john ladd says the government needs to do more to secure the border in rural areas. >> we have been inundated and invaded and i'm tired of it. nothing's been done.
>> reporter: but the obama administration says it is doing plenty. >> the facts are that there are more border patrol in arizona than there have ever been. the facts are that illegal immigration is going dramatically downward. >> reporter: and soon these border patrol agents will be joined by national guard troops. this as the obama administration tries to persuade congress to move forward on immigration reform. contrary to earlier reports, the guard won't begin moving in on sunday. there will be several weeks of preparations before that happens. brian? all right. george lewis on the u.s./arizona border with mexico this evening. george, thanks. when we come back, we'll swing back to the other end of the country and explain why airplanes won't be allowed in one part of upstate new york is weekend. this weekend. [ cellphone beeps ] i'm a teenage girl. [ cellphone beeps ] my bff becky texts and says she's kissed johnny. well, that's a problem 'cause i like johnny.
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there is an arresting photograph on the cover of "time" magazine just out today, and it's there for a reason. the editor says it's to make a point about the potential reality of a u.s. pullout from afghanistan. the 18-year-old woman, aisha, on the cover had her nose and ears cut off by the taliban after leaving her abusive in-laws. a bear suspected of killing one camper and mauling two others yesterday has been caught along with two of her three cubs. the 4:00 a.m. rampage described as an unprovoked predatory
attack on a campground near yellowstone park in montana which, as you know, is a hugely popular vacation spot every summer. wildlife officials said the bear will be destroyed if proven to have been involved in the attack. the fate of her cubs is unclear. overseas, the city of moscow broke its own record for heat. the temperature soared to just below 100 degrees today making july of 2010 the single hottest month on record there. and the clues are piling up that the big clinton wedding this weekend is indeed just where everybody thought it would be in rhinebeck, new york. we broke one clue on our own blog last night when we learned the faa has already shut down air space for the venue over this coming weekend. president obama, for his part, said on "the view" today he had not been invited to the wedding. he joked that would make security even worse. the price tag for the whole thing rumored to be between $2
million and $3 million. only in america. when we come back, why so many americans are heading over to europe in search of clues from a book. shoes? old legs. p.a.d., the doctor said. p-a-d... p.a.d. isn't just poor circulation in your legs causing you pain. it more than doubles your risk of a heart attack or stroke. i was going to tell you. if you have p.a.d., plavix can help protect you from a heart attack or stroke. plavix helps keep blood platelets from sticking together and forming clots, the cause of most heart attacks and strokes. call the doctor about plavix -- please? i will. [ male announcer ] certain genetic factors and some medicines such as prilosec reduce the effect of plavix leaving you at greater risk for heart attack and stroke. your doctor may use genetic tests to determine treatment. don't stop taking plavix without talking to your doctor as your risk of heart attack or stroke may increase. people with stomach ulcers or conditions that cause bleeding should not use plavix. taking plavix alone or with some other medicines
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finally tonight, you can't quite say it's this year's harry potter because the subject matter is very different, but it is the book of the moment and could soon become the hollywood blockbuster everybody's talking about. "entertainment weekly" magazine calls "the girl with the dragon tattoo" the hottest book on the planet right now. but the author has died since writing the book series and without clues from him, fans are left to go find them on their own where they were written in sweden. among those fans, our own stephanie gosk. ♪ [ "dancing queen" plays ] >> reporter: sweden has no problem attracting tourists. beautiful islands, beautiful people, abba literally playing in the streets. but this summer tourists are flocking here for something else -- millennium series madness. dragon tattoo book tours are sold out in stockholm.
>> first page, second, quick, quick, quick. >> reporter: swedish author stieg larsson's dark and violent crime series has turned into a phenomenon. 40 million copies of the books have been printed worldwide. last week in the u.s. one was sold nearly every second. the swedish movies based on the series vaulted an unknown actress to fame and now it's hollywood's turn. daniel craig will play muck raking journalist mikael blomkvist. >> it is the biggest star-making opportunity for a young actress in perhaps as long as i can remember. >> reporter: for fans like linda harding from california, salander is the series. >> she's strong, smart and if you looked at her you wouldn't think that. >> reporter: adding to the intrigue of the novels is the author himself. in 2004 he died suddenly, just
before the books were published. when larsson died he was making just $30,000 a year. he had always dreamt of buying a cottage on an island. if he were alive today he could probably just buy the island. the crime writer drew inspiration from his own world, from the bucolic swedish country side to stockholm. like most swedes, his characters drink a ton of coffee, sometimes at the same shop the author did. in that neighborhood we discovered almost everyone has a tattoo. anna has five. plot lines were ripped from his day job at a left wing prodemocracy magazine. mikael eckman worked with him for ten years. >> if you read the book it's about democracy. >> reporter: it's a political message wrapped within three thrilling page turners. if rumors in sweden are true, there could be more. larsson may have written a fourth. stephanie gosk, nbc news, stockholm. tomorrow night here, an emotional making a difference
report about a reunion coming out of a tragedy in haiti and some american parents who were just trying to do the right thing. for now though, that's our broadcast for this thursday night. as always, thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we all hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. we all hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com breaking news. immigration rallies are being held in various cities. dozens of people gathered outside the federal building. also there's a protest going on in the mission district. >> just as marchers are heading up, san francisco's police ch
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